Create balance: HPC engineers are harmonising ecological and economical requirements. © Andy Andrews, Getty Images
Gain a sustainable competitive edge – This is how Markus Hafner, head of investment controlling and digitalisation describes the objectives of HPC AG’s digitalisation roadmap. Every one of the 44 European locations is an independent unit within its region and supports customers in the areas of land recycling, environmental consulting and infrastructure planning. As a result of organic growth and mergers with smaller engineering companies, HPC has been able to increase its market presence over the years. Digitalising its service portfolio—from soil sampling to surveys—is therefore gaining in importance in the decentrally organised business. The company wants to offer employees and clients uniform technical and organisational standards, and optimum processes for both project management and for the use of IT-supported geo-information systems, as infrastructure projects require a large number of participants to be linked to the data collected in order to form a meaningful whole.
“Alongside the need to provide our experts with the best possible support for their complex tasks, for us, digitalisation means consistently developing our services in the interests of the customer with an additional focus on encouraging innovation,” says Markus Hafner. Within the framework of HPC’s digitalisation initiative, therefore, all operative and administrative processes—from preparing offers to project management and receipt of payment—are to be consolidated into one. To start with, the team realigned its sales approach to customers and modernised its tender process. “The first step was to introduce a customer management system across all sites and it was clear that only a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) could be made available to all locations and field workers quickly and in a scalable manner,” says Stefan Rosehr, Chief Information Officer, HPC AG. Together with Bechtle Group company, MODUS Consult, HPC went with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement as their solution of choice.
Digital network: Modern collaboration tools facilitate working across locations. © Microsoft
The experienced consultants prepared a comprehensive analysis of the IT systems and applications to be considered before developing a suitable implementation strategy for HPC. The MODUS Connector interface is the core element between the customer’s own project information system and Microsoft Dynamics 365, ensuring all data is available in the CRM, giving the around 300 sales and customer service employees access to an up-to-date database when communicating with customers. Thanks to integrated address management and the link to the central project information system, the company also knows who is working with whom on which projects and can specifically plan follow-up. What’s more, “with the Dynamics solution, HPC has set up a Future Panel which keeps in mind the company’s innovative spirit,” says Joachim Hess, Senior Consultant Sales at MODUS Consult.
As a result of the excellent cooperation with MODUS Consult in the first project, HPC subsequently decided to digitalise its other administrative processes as well. This included migrating procurement/financial management and controlling. Here too, the company relies on a cloud-based ERP solution with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations application and the content management solution, ELO Professional, used for the digital processing of incoming invoices including archiving. “As with the CRM implementation, we can create a seamless link to the central applications and data through our own module—MODUS ArchiveLink,” says Joachim Hess. As a result, all HPC project managers receive a fully linked view of the entire customer project.
HPC AG is one of the top international companies in the environmental sector. Its highly-motivated employees work on projects in the fields of land recycling, environmental consulting and infrastructure planning. The company currently employs around 640 people at 44 locations in nine European countries. As a founding member and partner of INOGEN (Innovative Global Environmental Network), HPC also operates worldwide, guaranteeing the highest quality standards in environmental consulting services.
Due to the different locations and as part of the Innovative Global Environmental Network (INOGEN), virtual teams are increasingly de rigueur in daily business. For better collaboration, HPC also relies on a cloud strategy with Microsoft Teams with which experts share information, have video conferences and update project plans. “It’s all very user-friendly with Office 365 and SharePoint Online,” explains HPC CIO Stefan Rosehr. As restrictions were tightened during the coronavirus pandemic, this collaboration solution proved to be an important tool for continuing ongoing projects. “Compared to the beginning of the year, the number of people using Microsoft Teams has almost doubled meaning we have been able to significantly expand mobile working, which was already a popular choice at HPC," says Stefan Rosehr.
The operational benefits of a Microsoft platform are obvious to the experienced IT manager. “With Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics 365, the IT department no longer has to deal with operating system issues and the server landscape. Management of areas and users has become far simpler. The legally compliant storage of e-mails and other documents is integrated from the outset.” Stefan Rosehr also only sees positives in the cloud in terms of IT security: “security technology in data centres is much higher than IT could provide for, plus, the cloud can be scaled almost arbitrarily. We have spent a lot of time focussing on auditing and data protection and have been audited and certified by all relevant bodies. With the help of Access Rights Management for the Azure environment, we can centrally manage who has access to which data, enabling us to guarantee data protection and security as well as the principle of data economy”.
Compared to the beginning of the year, the number of people using Microsoft Teams has almost doubled meaning we have been able to significantly expand mobile working, which was already a popular choice at HPC.
Stefan Rosehr, CIO, HPC AG
HPC was able to save further resources by cooperating with a second software specialist from the Bechtle Group: the experts at Bechtle Comsoft created a comprehensive Microsoft licence consulting concept for the engineering company, which included all current and future planned applications and functionalities resulting in a new, optimised contract design. “HPC’s entire Microsoft roadmap can be mapped in licensing models that not only include commercial improvements, but also the use of consulting services for the further development of IT,” says Michael Schunger, Member of the Executive Board, Bechtle Comsoft.
Microsoft 365 E5 licensing gives an insight into the next technical step at HPC. “The state-of-the-art Microsoft 365 setup includes the PowerBI analytics application, the integration of Enterprise Voice and Azure Active Directory Plan 2 features. These technologies will further strengthen employee productivity, security standards and seamless interaction across all Microsoft applications,” says Michael Schunger. CIO Stefan Rosehr cites another example of the optimal interlocking of business and IT: with Azure Cloud, HPC is now able to offer new services simply as online services. “The data collected and analysed by our experts can be made available, for example, in a web-based building contaminant database. The customer’s facility management has access to all information that needs to be taken into account during rebuilding and development measures—at any time, at the push of a button. It goes without saying that the engineers and geologists will continue to work meticulously for their customers on-site, however, IT is changing the way they collaborate and share their knowledge—to everyone’s benefit.
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Published on Oct 5, 2020.